Motorcycles, tools, and garages! A little bit of everything mechanical and technical.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chapter 3: The Ressurection

We spent weeks working on POJ. Every spare minute I had was involved with tinkering on that stupid bike. The biggest problem was, of course, the fact that it was seized. I didn’t have money to spend on this thing, nor did I really want to at that point. It was just kinda fun be able to say that I had a motorobike! As brilliantly talented and gifted 14 yr olds, we came up with an excellent way of un-seizing the bike. We pulled the head off, soaked it in WD40, and then proceeded to spend the next 4 weeks jumping up and down on the kickstarter. Every now and then we would try heating up the cylinder with a little torch. Soak, Heat, Jump, Repeat. Can you see this going anywhere? We eventually gave up.

I guess at this point I should point out that as a younger kid, my Dad referred to me a lot as “tenacious”. At the time, I thought he was cussing at me or something, but I really don’t give up on anything to easily. After a short break from our hammer, I was back tinkering with POJ. I don’t remember how long it sat there in Clint’s garage, but it seems like it was at least a couple of months. Don’t remember what we were working on at the time, could have been the IT400 or we may have even had the El Tigre from Heck by then. Anyways, one night I went over and decided to putter with POJ.

I forwent the heat and hammer and just decided to jump on the kickstarter. Remember, it didn’t have a back wheel. It was sitting on the centerstand and I hopped on it pretty hard expecting resistance… and there was none. POJ tipped backwards, I went flying, parts were raining from the sky, but POJ was unsiezed! We whooped and hollered and thought we had made the breakthrough of the century. We were so excited we vowed to get it running that night.

Have you ever set something down, turned away, and turned back a few seconds later to find the thing GONE!? Removing the head on POJ was a pretty simple task: remove 4 cap headed extra long nuts, remove head, remove gasket. Viola, head is off! For some reason, the spot I had set the 4 nuts (on top of the woodstove) only contained THREE NUTS. No big deal, we got the thing unsiezed so how hard could it be to find a nut? Famous last words.

Granted, it had been several weeks since I had taken the head off and set the head bolts on the top of the stove, but the other three were still there, so the last one COULDN’T have been very far! It seems like I spent weeks searching the shop for that stupid little nut but now that I think about it it was probably only an hour or two. I did end up finding it- mixed in with a pile of parts that at one point had been a Suzuki Titan 500. At least, I’m pretty sure it came from POJ and not from the Titan… Either way, it fit, it looked like the others, and it worked.

I slapped the head on (upside down, it turns out, as I discovered 15 years later) and set about getting the thing to run. The fact that it was the dead of winter didn’t deter me- I had ridden bikes in the snow before, and I’m pretty sure at this point I had even invented my “ski-bike”. Imagine my chagrin when I suddenly and unexpectedly had a free motor with good compression- and no spark.

Electronics and I get along about as well as cats and water. It really doesn’t make much sense to me other than if you do it wrong, the smokes gets out and I’ll be darned if you can get the smoke back in. I didn’t realize this at the time, but a couple of years later I was tinkering with a Honda Twinstar that also had no spark. Very bad experience, both with stealerships and my fat fingers, that has led to a lifetime of angst for all things electronic. Don’t get me wrong, I can and do wire / troubleshoot / fix electronics, its just not my favourite thing in the whole wide world. The next few months were long and uneventful. I figured (rightly so it turned out) that the reason for the lack of spark was largely due to the missing key switch. There were 7 or so wires that were just hanging out of the battery area. I tried every combination I could think of with those five wires before I realized that one was a battery ground and one was a battery hot… Hmmm.. wonder what happens if I hook it up to power?

After even more experimenting, cleaning points, trying 50 different spark plugs, and hooking a battery up to it, I finally hit on a combination that GOT THE BIKE TO SPARK!!! One of the extra wires had to be grounded, and two of them had to be jumpered to power.

The second I had spark, it took all of three seconds to screw the plug in, squirt some gas through the carb, and give it a kick. WOW, is this bike every loud. IT RUNS!!! Well, it runs as long as you keep squirting gas in it while its hooked up to the battery charger. Oh yeah, and theres still no back tire.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The latest project(s)... a John Deere Snowmachine.

Yes, I said snowmachine. In Idaho, we go "Snowmachining". In Canada, we went Ski-dooing. Washington- just sledding. Been playing with a trio of '76 John Deere Liquifires. Got enough parts between the three to build (hopefully) two useable sleds. Got one up and running and hope to have the other one moving during Christmas break!

One of the best things about starting something up that has sat for probably 10 years is the SMOKE. Dont know why, but man, do old vehicles belch a lot of junk out after theyve been sitting awhile.

We were even lucky enough to get a SNOW DAY! Spent the afternoon puttsing around town on the one, enough to realize its got a ways to go.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chapter 2: Along Comes POJ.

Have you ever been ice-fishing? Let’s just sum it up in two words: It Sucks. Yes, with a capital “S”. I have never been very fond of fishing, but Ice fishing? Where you get to walk out on a huge chunk of ice hoping that it’s not really going to break even though you keep hearing cracks like gunshots and friends telling stories of dynamite retrieving dogs that like to hide under brand new trucks parked on the ice? Did I also mention it’s usually quite cold when you do this? Basically, you go out on a frozen lake. Drill or hack a hole in the ice. Drop a line in and then sit and watch this hole. Yup, pretty darn fun.

For some reason, at about the age of 15, I actually thought this was “fun”. Let’s pretend your 15. You got up at 4:00 in the morning some freezing winter day during Christmas break cause the early fisher gets the fish, or something like that. You’ve been standing on a frozen lake in the middle of the Alberta Prairies, where the wind has likely been blowing about 30 mph all week. The sun FINALLY comes up. You’re bored. You haven’t had a single bite.

Obviously, it’s time to do something else. Not much else around but a couple of ancient run down grain bins on the side of the leg. Guess it’s time to go exploring! My friend and I wandered over to the shore which was part of an old farm yard. The grain bins were in pretty sorry shape. We peaked in one or two to find nothing of interest. One of them, on the other hand, had a great deal of interesting lumps of metal coated in a warm blanket of dust patiently waiting out the winter. Motorcycles! Hundreds of them! Parts hanging from the rafters! Extra motors lined up waiting to be installed in future projects!

Okay, not really. There were a couple of bent up frames, 3 or 4 engines that had seen much better days, several used tires, and one half of a motorcycle. Well, maybe more like two thirds of a motorcycle. This two thirds of a motorcycle was the one that started it all!

We spent a couple of hours in the shed, poking through all of the stuff and dreaming of all the things we could do. All these tires, a Hodaka motor that kicked over, bits of motorcycle frames, we could make a killer go-cart!!! The two thirds of a motorcycle we inspected carefully. It was ROUGH. It had no back wheel. Engine covers were off, engine was stuck, side cover was missing, tire (the front one, cause the back one didn’t exist!) was flat, center stand was bent out of shape, and lots of dings, dents, and rust.

It was OLD. Metal everything. We weren’t too interested, because at the time we were into the REAL dirt bikes- like the CR60, YZ80, and IT400. This old thing was a boat anchor. We thought we could do SOMETHING with it though, and all of the other parts had to be worth something.

Luckily, my friends dad was a realtor and he knew exactly who owned the property. We called him up and asked what his plans were for all of that junk, to which he replied, “Take anything you want!”

Didn’t need to tell us twice!!!

We zipped back out there later that day with my friends dads little pickup. There was a brief encounter with a slightly irate farm hand who was a little perturbed that we were loading a bunch of stuff in the back of the truck. We explained to him what his boss had told us, and I guess that was good enough for him because he left us alone to gather our junk.

At this point, I need to say something about garages. My parents, well, my Dad, has a thing for junk. He collects it by the ton. He’s very good at presentation though, so you don’t really notice it. Unless you happen to be a friend of his or even a friend of mine that has garage space or a farm where old dead tractors, combines, trucks, lawnmowers, etc could be stored. Needles to say, our garage was quite full of STUFF. Cant remember for sure but at the time I think he was working on restoring an old wood burning cook stove and the second Honda Odyssey, both of which turned out really nice and are even still in use (sorta) today. Between his projects, tools, spare parts, and the two cars in that garage, there wasn’t much room for any of my projects.

This wasn’t as big a deal as it could have been. You see, Clint’s Dad had a LARGE shop behind there house, and he never used it. At one point I think we had 7 or 8 sleds, 5 or 6 bikes, a fourwheeler, a boat, and several other assorted bits of machinery in various stages of disrepair. It was a great shop. Had a big sliding door, a loft for storing parts, and most importantly, a HEAT SOURCE!

My parents garage was stuffed full. I was not allowed to have a motorcycle. Hmmm… Two strikes against me. Just meant we had to haul all of the stuff over to Clints house and clear a spot for it in his garage.

It didn’t take long for us to come up with a very fitting name for the bike: POJ. Piece. Of. Junk. Pronounced “Podge”. It was trashed. Bent handlebars. Missing grips. No back tire. Engine seized. Airbox missing. Carb cover missing. Oil cable missing. Clutch lever missing. The bike was 30 years old, weighed a TON, the list could go on and on. I do believe its only saving grace was that it was MINE! Well, half mine anyways… I still wasn’t allowed to have a motorcycle, but it seems my parents were okay with me having HALF of a bike (maybe more like a ¼ of a bike, since there was only half a bike there!) as long as it didn’t come home.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chapter 1: A New Beggining, An Old Story.

Its time. This is the story about me, motorcycles, and memories. We'll see how long I can keep this up for, but don't hold your breath- I don't do so well at continuing things like this.

A Brief introduction…

I like bikes. Really, I like anything with a motor. Sometimes as long as it has wheels the motor isn’t even necessary. My FAVOURITE thing, however, is when you combine two wheels and an engine. I have had a thing for bikes since around the age of 8, at which point in my life my parents informed me that motorcycles were the devil and I wouldn’t own one while I was living in their house. Turns out they were wrong, but we’ll get there in a minute.

I had ridden a bike or two- a neighbor had a PW50 that we would spend hours on going around and around and around and around their yard on. As I got a little bigger, I got more interested in 4 wheelers. Thankfully, the training wheels stage didn’t last very long, although I do have many fond memories of a certain Honda Fourtrax that we put several hundred miles on in, around, through, over, and across our small town- even somewhat legally. Well, it had a plate and was insured, anyways…

My motorcycling started in earnest when Clinton moved to town. Again, I wasn’t allowed to own a bike, but occasionally I was permitted to ride a friend’s around a bit. Well as it turned out, Clinton had the coolest little dirtbike I had ever seen- an early ’80 Honda CR60. Man did that thing go like stink!!! We rode it everywhere. In the alley, in his yard, in the church parking lot, in other alleys, out to the Ridge, out to the motocross track, on the south end of town when it was nothing more than a field, at Corner Lake, just everywhere. I got okay at riding, but I was kind of a chicken. I enjoyed tinkering almost more than riding. We soon outgrew the little 60, and Clinton bought a late ‘80’s YZ80 from my cousin. Now THAT was a fast bike!

The YZ opened up a whole new field for us. It was bigger, went faster, AND we still had the CR60, which meant we could BOTH ride at the same time!!! The CR was getting a bit small on me though, as I’ve always been about a foot taller than the average, and Clinton decided to buy a project bike. He hauled home a basket case Yamaha IT400. Took him a while, but after about a year, he got it together and running.

Imagine, if you will, going from a little YZ pushing maybe 26 horse power to a great big bike that was running around 60 horse power!!! It even had a speedometer so we knew just how stupid we were being.

After the IT400, there was a rapid succession of different bikes, sleds, and other toys including quads and good old Honda Odyssey’s, which was actually my first ever set of wheels. So it was, that at about age 15, I finally managed to get my very own half of a motorcycle.